Author: Sharon Housley
You think that you have mastered the art of RSS, but how much do you really know? Take the RSS quiz to test your knowledge of RSS.
Question: If something is in an RSS feed, it is perfectly fine to reproduce the contents of the feed. I mean after all RSS means really simple syndication, right?
Answer: No, that is not true. Regardless of whether content is in a feed or not, the original creator of the content has the right to restrict its use. While most people do feel that if content is in an RSS feed, it is available for syndication–that is not always the case. Various groups have made efforts to add namespaces which expand the tags used in RSS, to define whether the content is available for syndication.
The two most notable namespaces that detail permissions are the Creative Commons extension and the Bloglines’ Access extension. These two extensions are not yet widely supported so it is always best to check the terms of service associated with the feed or website to determine if the feed is available for syndication.
Question: RSS is only for blogs right? All blogs have RSS feeds right?
Answer: No, and No! While blogs may have helped increase the popularity of RSS feeds, RSS feeds are not specific to blogs. RSS feeds can be used for any type of content not just blogs. In fact, there are probably more RSS feeds available for non-blogs than there are feeds for blogs. Publishers have used RSS feeds for articles, press releases, discounts, podcasts, calendars, alerts and the list goes on and on.
Question: When I add a new item to the feed, do I simply edit the old .rss file or do I create a new one?
Answer: If you are adding content related to the theme of the original RSS feed, you should always expand your existing RSS feed rather than creating a new feed. Do not edit any of the RSS feed’s existing items, simply add a new item to the existing RSS feed.
Question: Can RSS Feeds be set up for private list subscribers and what kind of security is available for RSS feeds to support a private feed?
Answer: Yes, while there are no provisions in the RSS 2.0 specification for passwords or protecting files, you can use any security mechanism available on the http server to protect the entire RSS feed. The security options are dependent on the capabilities of your web server.
Question: What is a feed reader?
Answer: A feed reader can also be referred to a news aggregator. RSS feed readers come in all shapes and sizes and are just tools that make it easy for users to view the contents or headlines of the RSS feeds they subscribe to. Feed readers can be desktop applications, or web applications. Desktop readers are programs that behave similar to an email client, you add new feeds and when the RSS feeds you subscribe to are updated new items appear in the RSS reader. The web aggregators are websites that aggregate all of your favorite feeds, the web page dynamically updates as new items are added to the feeds you subscribe to. Many email applications now also include the ability to monitor RSS feeds. As the popularity of RSS increases, the options to read and monitor feeds is expanding.
Question: Can you block a search engine from accessing a feed?
Answer: You can use a robots.txt to indicate to search engines that specific RSS feeds should not be indexed. Most search engines will observe the contents of a properly formatted robots.txt file.
Question: What is a GUID?
Answer: A GUID is a globally unique identifier. The RSS specification strongly suggests that each RSS feed item have a unique GUID. If you are creating feeds, a GUID is important because GUIDs are often used by feed readers and aggregators to determine if a feed item is new or simply an existing item that has been updated. Each item in the RSS feed should have a different GUID.
About the Author:
Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll http://www.feedforall.com software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages marketing for NotePage http://www.notepage.net a wireless text messaging software company.